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Love and Other Drugs

May Cause Drowsiness

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars.

Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a shameless and gifted lothario. The ladies swoon for him at the drop of a hat. However, his gift for (literally) charming the pants off every female he encounters is put to the test when he runs afoul of the iconoclastic Maggie (Anne Hathaway) who rebuffs his initial overtures and throws Jamie for a loop in Love and Other Drugs.

Aside from Jamie’s gift for bedding the ladies, he’s also a talented salesman. After being unceremoniously booted from a Best Buy-esque chain store, the next step for the wayward lothario is a bit unclear. Fortunately, Jamie catches a break and gets a gig as a Pfizer pharmaceutical sales rep. His gift for seducing doe-eyed beauties once again serves him well as he charms countless receptionists at numerous doctors’ offices in an effort to get Zoloft in front of MDs.

Jamie’s vision of Benjamins rolling in as a pharmaceutical sales rep isn’t exactly coming to fruition. Fortunately, his amorous escapades with Maggie keep him somewhat distracted from his less-than-stellar turn in pharmaceuticals. Maggie’s a bit different from the countless women Jamie’s shagged in the past. She’s independent and emotionally detached. In other words, she’s in some ways a female version of Jamie.

The fact that Maggie doesn’t immediately swoon over Jamie is a source of consternation (and attraction) for Jamie. In short order, Jamie finds himself a bit smitten with the aloof Maggie. Love and Other Drugs starts off as a fairly typical romantic comedy, but about halfway through the film veers abruptly into drama territory and never really gets back on track.

Director Ed Zwick has directed some masterful, sprawling war films over the years including The Last Samurai and Glory. Perhaps this would explain the film’s lengthy road trip into dramatic territory. But, this departure effectively disrupts the tone of the film and derails it entirely.

What was formerly a mildly entertaining romantic comedy becomes a predictable and overwrought drama. Why Ed Zwick was chosen (or chose) this kind of material is a bit baffling. He’s never done romantic comedies before and likely should steer clear of this kind of material in the future.

Further hindering Love and Other Drugs is the primary cast. Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway are relatively attractive, likable actors, but the romance between the two onscreen seems a bit manufactured. Hathaway’s character is a quasi-bohemian artist who works at a café and lives in what appears to be a converted warehouse. Jamie has a penchant for generic, mindless, buxom beauties. Why either of them would be attracted to the other seems a bit of a mystery. The abundance of graphic sex scenes between the two of them doesn’t lend any more credibility to the coupling.

Love and Other Drugs is a film that had the potential to be interesting or at least entertaining. Jake starts selling Viagra later in the film and effectively goes supernova. Zwick could have chosen to make more of a biting satire on the erectile dysfunction business, but instead the Viagra angle is largely an afterthought. What we’re left with is a romantic comedy or romantic “dramady” that feels largely saccharine and unfunny.